Thursday, July 12, 2018

Window & Notch Trails (Badlands NP)

Badlands National Park
Window Trail (7/11/2018)
   Trailhead Elevation: 2,651 ft.
   Distance: 0.27 mi
   Start Time: 7:41pm
   End Time: 7:53pm

Notch Trail (7/12/2018)
   Trailhead Elevation: 2,651 ft.
   Distance: 0.85 mi
   Elevation Gain: 93 ft.
   Start Time: 7:43am
  End Time: 8:30am

Trip Report:
Window Trail - July 11, 2018
This is a very short trail from the parking lot along the east entrance road to the Badlands. There is little to be known or needed for this trail other than to start at the sign in the lot and enjoy it. Signage does warn this could be rattlesnake country so one should be observant to stay on trail. We were on a boardwalk entirely and walked it out to its completion at the "window" where we were greeting to a panoramic view. This trail offers a nice introduction to the amazing terrain of the Badlands. We had an extra surprise as a the sighting of a young rabbit which was munching near the trail. He didn't run away as we stopped and gave us a few minutes to check him out. To the north as we returned to the car we were treated to amazing views of the setting sun.

First views on the trail

Views from the "Window"

Looking back to the lot and the beautiful setting sun

Signage at the parking lot

Notch Trail - July 12, 2018
When we were on the Window Trail the night before I had seen a sign for the Notch Trail and found it to look like a longer and more interesting excursion, yet short enough for the family to enjoy with me. After tearing down our camp this morning we decided to drive up the road and hike on the Notch Trail grabbing breakfast while there. Even Sarah decided to hike and so we set out. It was recommended wearing hiking shoes/boots which we all did.

Simply gorgeous hiking

The first part of the trail meanders about between the formations. It wasn't always easy to follow but they had poles with white paint on the top sticking out of the ground every so often to help guide. We were on the lookout for rattlesnakes the whole time. The views were fantastic with the morning light. About a quarter mile in we veered left following close to a creek bed. This quickly led into terrain where the trail nearly disappeared. I could tell pretty quick this didn't seem right. I backtracked just a bit and found where we had missed the trail. In fact, we had had a big miss. There is a ladder section and it happened to be right where we veered off trail. We were clearly in the moment when we missed it and a simple look to the right would have spotted it instantly when we passed it.

The Ladder

The ladder was composed of two long cables heading up the slope to be climbed with logs placed in every foot or two. It worked up an ever increasingly steep slope, though never going over 50 or 60 degrees. Sarah stayed at the bottom while the boys headed to the top with me. It was a fun climb. Seth made it to the top and then started to freak out when I told him we had to downclimb it as well. He still is working out some issues with heights

Slightly ledgy terrain after the ladder

Above the ladder the trail follows a ledge through the formations and would eventually come out to an opening with some views. We only followed the ledgy terrain for a few moments and then turned around to head down since Sarah wasn't with us. Jonah and Luke descended the ladder just fine. I stayed just below Seth to spot him and confidence boost him and he did fine. We hiked back out to the car and then ate on our breakfast foods there in the parking lot.

Heading out towards the Notch. We turned around about here.

These were pretty short looks into the beauty of the Badlands. There are other, longer trails that with proper time one could really enjoy at greater lengths the depths of this wonderful park.


I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).  

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